We are only two weeks away from the announcement of the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament field, which will announce the 68 teams who will take part in this year’s “March Madness.” Even though several of the top teams of late have suffered significant missteps, they are still being held high in the rankings. Thus, this year’s NCAA Tournament could be one of the most wide-open in recent memory, perhaps a harbinger of major upsets.

Top Three Set…But What About #4?

For many pundits, the top three teams are set in stone as to where they will be heading. Topping the roster is Purdue, who has been atop the rankings for much of the season. But Purdue has significant issues facing them, such as what happens when C Zach Edey has difficulties. Teams have begun to realize that, if you can stop Edey, then the rest of the team has a tough time picking up the slack. A recent loss to lowly Ohio State pointed out this factor, but it does not seem to be stopping people from picking the Boilermakers as the #1 seed and sending them to the Midwest Region.

The next two seeds also seem to be set in stone, but the teams in question have also had their problems. The defending champion UConn Huskies are on their way to another #1 seed in the East, but a recent loss to Creighton knocked them from the top of the rankings. Taking over their spot on top of that list is the University of Houston, which has a trio of road losses (to Iowa State, TCU, and Kansas) but still enough clout to receive the #1 seed for the South Region.

The only question remaining is who might get the final #1 seed for the tournament. Currently in the driver’s seat for that spot is Arizona, but a strong run from the SEC’s Tennessee or the ACC’s North Carolina could knock the Wildcats from that slot. It is believed that Purdue, UConn, Houston, and Arizona will win their individual conference tournaments and receive the automatic qualifier selection from the NCAA but, should any of these teams fall in their conference matchups, it could result in some movement at the top of the board.

Fight For Final Spots Intriguing

The fight between the eight teams up for the final four slots in the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is arguably more intriguing than the look at the top of the list. Currently, the four teams that are labeled “Last In” consist of Seton Hall, Virginia, Providence, and Gonzaga (riding a 25-year streak of making the NCAA Tournament, excluding the canceled 2020 tournament). These four teams are feeling the pressure right now to notch as many big wins as possible (or potentially go on a run in their conference tournaments) because the slightest misstep can see their dreams of dancing in March dashed.

Likewise, the teams labeled “First Out” are going to have to get in “tournament mode” right now to play their way into the Big Dance. Those teams include a former National Champion in Villanova, along with Texas A&M, Utah, and Colorado. Starting a winning streak now, and carrying it on into their conference tournaments, could earn their way into the 68-team field. Any loss at this point for these teams ends any hopes of moving forward – at least in the NCAA Tournament field.

St. Patrick’s Day will be a day of revelry for many, but for those not chosen on Selection Sunday for the 2024 NCAA Tournament, it will be a day to drown their sorrows. That is when we will learn who will be in the “Big Dance,” and who will be the teams left to the secondary tournaments (the NIT and others).

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